The Muddy Guide to What’s On
It’s getting colder and mistier, and it’s time to bring out the big guns – woolly socks, a sneaky hipflask and list of fun things to see you through the week. I’ll share my hipflask and the What’s On no problem, just keep your feet to yourself.
Oxford Round Table Annual Fireworks Display, Oxford, Sat 5 Nov
Kapow! Wzshhhh! Bang! Kffftttt! (well it’s the best I can do, I’m no Roald Dahl). It’s the 49th Fireworks display by the Oxford Round Table, an event that last year raised a whopper £90,000. Held at Oxford’s South Parks, it’s the biggest fireworks I know in the local area, with thousands coming to gawp at the pretty skies and enjoy fleeting fantasies about throwing their mother in law on the enormous bonfire. Single tickets are £7, a family ticket is £17.50, with children under 5 going free or you can get the ‘superfamily’ ticket at £45 for 2 adults and 2 kids which includes access to the Super Family tent and enclosure, including bar & childrens entertainment, complementary drink and hot dog, and a special viewing area to watch the explosions.
Gates open 4.30pm. South Park, London Road, Oxford, oxfordfireworks.co.uk
The Shawshank Redemption, New Theatre, Oxford, Mon 7- Sat 13 Nov
Housewive’s hottie Paul Nicholls, well known on our screens from everything from Eastenders to The C-Word and In the Club, stars in the stage production of The Shawshank Redemption, based on the novella that turned into the Oscar-nominated film starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. Nicholls plays Andy, an innocent handed a double life sentence for the brutal murder of his wife, with the Freeman role taken by Ben Onwukwe (RSC, Royal Court and *cough* London’s Burning). It’s not going to be a light piece, but the film was brilliant and there’s no reason why this can’t be either.
Breaking the Rules, St Barnabas Church, Oxford, Sun 6 Nov
This sounds slightly mad but brilliant. Held at St Barnabas Church in Jericho, central Oxford, Breaking the Rules is a musical rendering of the life and music of composer and murderer Carlo Gesualdo (1566-1613) that extracts from his Tenebrae Responsories and a selection of his madrigals. It’s set in a hilltop village on the final day of Carlo Gesualdo’s life. Aged 47, he is alone in the chapel of his family estate and haunted by visions of his murdered wife. Having lost his son and only heir two weeks previously he now he comes to terms with his own mortality, knowing he faces purgatory for the sins he has committed. De, de, derrrrrr! Expect two sopranos, a tenor, bass, lute player and Gerald Kyd as Gesualdo. There are mild references to sex and murder, so it’s 12+ with an end time of roughly 9.30pm.
St. Barnabas Church, Jericho, Oxford, musicatoxford.com
Critics Fortnight at The Ultimate Picture Palace, Oxford, Mon 7 – Thurs 17 Nov
My favourite cinema by a country mile, the plucky indie Ultimate Picture Palace off Cowley Road is hosting a special Critics’ Fortnight from next Monday. It’s a great idea, this, with six national film critics talking about the movies that sparked their interest in cinemc. Each screening will be introduced by a critic (including contributors for The Guardian, Time Out, The Telegraph and James Luxford of BBC Oxford) and followed by a 30 minute Q&A session with the audience. The films include Run Lola Run, Pulp Fiction, Mousehunt and Nil by Mouth and it all kicks off on Monday when Variety and Guardian columnist Catherine Bray introduces Peeping Tom so this is a great chance to revisit some classics amid the decadent velvetine splendour of the deco UPP.
La Boheme, Stowe, Sat 5 Nov
Loads of opera on this week, kicking off with Puccini’s La bohème reimagined in Arcadian Opera’s first ever production for the Roxburgh Hall (pictured) at Stowe. Sung in English with orchestral accompaniment, the score recounts the tale of the passionate complex love of Rodolfo and Mimi by the principal cast of young professional singers with a talented local chorus.
Running time: 2 hours and 20 minutes including an interval. Roxburgh Hall, Stowe, stowe.co.uk
‘Ghost the Musical’, New Theatre Oxford, until Saturday
Last two days to get your potters wheel revved up for this stage production of the Demi/Patrick/Whoopee cinematic classic. I went on Monday and loved it – much more depth than I would have given the play credit for prior to my review.
Zoe Lyons: Comedy at The Potters Arms, Winchmore Hill, Thurs 3 Nov
I saw the brilliant Zoe Lyons at The Potters Arms back in April when this awesome rural pub put on a special Comedy Festival. She was very funny then and no doubt she’ll just as good this time round. Lyons headlined the Channel 4 Comedy Gala back in May and is in the middle of a national tour. The ticket fee includes a main course in the interval and is a bargain-dacious £18. If you can’t make it to Zoe, the pub runs its comedy night on the last Thursday of every month starting at 8pm.
The Potters Arms, Fagnall Lane, Winchmore Hill, Bucks, pottersarms.co.uk
The Tempest, RSC, Stratford 2016 Family Production, Tues 8 Nov – 21 Jan 2017
Wow, wow and wow. Simon Russell Beale returns to the RSC after 20 years to play Prospero in this groundbreaking family production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest at the RSC. The Tempest’s tale of Prospero, a magician able to control the very elements and bend nature to his will is being produced in partnership with Intel – you read it right – using advanced technology in a bold reimagining of the play, so the mind fair boggles but it sounds like the perfect introdution to Shakespeare for young theatregoers and their families.
Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, rsc.org.uk
The Magic Flute, Opera Anywhere, Thame, Sat 5 – Sun 6 Nov
The second warbler of the week and a cool one, as it’s put on by the fabulous Opera Anywhere who rock up in all kinds of places to spread the operatic love. On Saturday they’re at The Player’s Theatre in Thame, performing The Magic Flute. It’s one of Mozart’s most popular operas, often referred to as his only pantomime, and of course for a plot so ludicrous and convuluted that I can’t even attempt it here but at £14-16 for a stall seat you can afford to take a punt on something a bit different.
The Players Theatre, 3 Nelson St, Thame, Oxon, operaanywhere.com
Christmas at Waddesdon Manor, Weds 9 Nov – 2 Jan
The awesome Bruce Munro, architect of Waddesdon Manor’s brilliant Christmas light displays for the last few years, returns again with his Field of Light immersive installation, in a new location this year to celebrate 25 years since its conception. Munro will ‘plant’ 9,000 slender stems crowned with radiant frosted-glass spheres to populate the Aviary Glade, and the spheres, connected via illuminated optical fibre, will ‘bloom’ as darkness falls drawing visitors into the installation. Plus there’s a four-week long Christmas Fair of food and gifts on the Parterre, and The Manor’s ornate façade will be illuminated from dusk and every 15 minutes the front of the house will be bathed in a sound and light show entitled ‘[email protected]’, created by Woodroffe Bassett Design.
Waddesdon Manor, nr Aylesbury, Bucks, waddesdon.org.uk
Wellchild Christmas Fair at Daylesford, Mon 7 – Weds 9 Nov
If you’re going to travel to a Christmas Fair, better make it this one. The superslinky Daylesford Organic Farm Fair features over 180 stalls selling British designed gifts including homeware, luxe cashmere, hand printed textiles, jewellery, millinery, leather, children’s toys and clothes. There are free workshops sponsored by – who else?! – AGA, and you can drop in on the special preview evening on Monday between 6-9.30pm or go between 9.30-4pm onTues and Weds to mix with the best highlighted blow-dries and cashmere combos in the county.
Glyndebourne presents Don Giovanni, Milton Keynes Theatre, Tues 8 & Fri 11 Nov
Opera number two, this one by Glyndebourne, presenting Mozart’s dark comedy about Don Giovanni on a very unusual day – a day of foiled sexual conquests, murder, and his last day on earth. Last seen as Tarquinius in The Rape of Lucretia (Tour 2013), Baritone Duncan Rock returns to sing Don Giovanni, accompanied by tenor Anthony Gregory, soprano Ana Maria Labin and Polish soprano Magdalena Molendowska. This opera is sun in Italian with English subtitles (phew), and for real opera buffs, there’s a pre-performance talk at 6.15pm.
Milton Keynes Theatre, 500 Marlborough Gate, Milton Keynes, Bucks, atgtickets.com